As we strive to reduce the negative impact that our lifestyles have on the environment, many of us turn to shrinking our carbon footprint by purchasing hybrid vehicles, using public transportation, or riding our bike to cut down on harmful vehicle emissions. However, not everyone has the option (or the money) to make these changes. A more practical and affordable solution is to examine the cleaning products that we use in our homes on a daily basis. Not only are they full of un-pronounceable chemicals, but they are often packaged in plastic which, as we all know, is not biodegradable and piles up in our landfills. Additionally, re-purposing items you already have around the house can be economically beneficial because you won’t have to spend extra money on cleaning products. Here are just a few of many easy changes you can make around the house.
Mixing vinegar and baking soda makes for an exciting, albeit messy, elementary school science project volcano. However, when combined with water, the resulting solution works wonders as an all-purpose cleaner. I picked up this cleaning tip (in addition to the others cited in this article) from my mother who has been using this concoction for years to clean our bathroom surfaces, but you can use this on just about any hard surface. This is something you can make and store for later use, I reuse 2-liter soda-pop bottles for storage. Fill a 2-liter bottle 3/4 full with water, then add roughly 1/3 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup baking soda to each (I tend to guesstimate on the proportions). I then fill a spray-bottle as needed and store the rest under the sink.
Bottom Line: Vinegar, Baking soda, Spray bottle = $3 – $4. Commercially available cleaners = $3 – $7.
Clean chopping blocks with lemon:
Next time you need to clean your chopping block after preparing a delicious meal, slice open a lemon and rub it on the chopping block. The acidity of the lemon juice kills bacteria, removes stains, and leaves your chopping block smelling lemony-fresh. For tougher stains that do not come out right away, squeeze the juice and let sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe away the stains.
Bottom Line: Lemon = $.50 – $1. Commercially available cleaners = $2 – $8.
Natural air fresheners:
No need to spend money on air fresheners that often smell nothing like the scents they claim to represent. I’ve been grinding up lemons in my garbage disposal for years, but here are a few other alternatives you can try:
• Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter
• Grind up a slice of citrus-fruit in the garbage disposal (I find that lemon works best)
• Simmer aromatic spices in a pot of water (kind of a DIY potpourri)
• Having freshly-cut herbs or flowers (if you enjoy gardening) is a nice touch in the kitchen
• Houseplants help reduce odors and go well in any room of the house
Bottom Line: Repurposing aromatic herbs, coffees, or plants that you will use later costs pennies compared to buying a commercial air freshener which can cost between $3 – $12.